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Why Credibility of observers is questionable

By Dominic Opaka | Sep 3rd 2017 | 2 min read

The annulment of presidential results by the Supreme Court casts doubts on the credibility of international observers. The Justice Maraga led court cited irregularities by IEBC and ordered the a new poll to be held within 60 days.

The election commission had declared President Uhuru Kenyatta, the winner of last month's election. But Nasa Presidential candidate, Raila Odinga, claimed that the commission's IT system had been hacked to manipulate the results in favour of the incumbent..

Reading the decision – reached by a majority of four to two among the judges – Chief Justice David Maraga said the August 8 poll had not been "conducted in accordance with the constitution", contrary to the clean bill of health given it by the various observer missions led by former US Secretary of State John Kerry, former South African President Thabo Mbeki who led the AU delegation and John Mahama who headed the Commonwealth Observer team.

John Kerry, who led the Carter Centre observer mission, said: "The process that was put in place is proving its value thus far". "Kenya has made a remarkable statement to Africa and the world about its democracy and the character of that democracy. Don't let anybody besmirch that."

The AU mission led by Mr Mbeki said it found the polls to be “largely peaceful and credible”. Foreign observers had said they were confident that Kenya’s general election was conducted fairly, despite Raila claiming the vote was rigged. The European Union just as the Commonwealth observer missions also gave the poll a clean bill of health.

The consequences of the Supreme Court decision make is that the otherwise shambolic elections have been presented to the international community as being up to standard.

Electoral observation and monitoring have become an integral part of the democratic and electoral processes around the world. International observers must recognize that it is the people of a country who ultimately determine credibility and legitimacy of an election process.


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